Mehul Choksi, the Indian fraud accused diamantaire with Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship, has filed his appeal against the ruling of a High Court judge who denied him permission to bring in an expert to challenge the validity of the extradition request from India.
His lawyer, Dr. David Dorsett, confirmed that the application was filed on Monday. He also explained that he had asked the High Court to allow his client to bring in an expert witness to testify about whether the extradition request is legal but the application was denied by the High Court. The court of appeal, he said, gave the applicant permission to challenge the ruling hence the appeal has been filed.
He added that the extradition proceedings are therefore on hold until all legal matters are resolved.
Choksi, who has taken up residence in Antigua and Barbuda after being granted citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) here, is wanted for the alleged multi-billion-dollar fraud on the Punjab National Bank in India.
Choksi is the chairman of the Gitanjali Group which is wrapped up in the alleged fraud. He and his nephew, Nirav Modi, who is currently in a London jail, are wanted by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) to the tune of Rs 13,400 crore.
Last year, Dr. Dorsett filed a suit against the state of Antigua and Barbuda, and the case was heard before High Court Justice Rita Olivetti on November 14 and again on December 12, 2018.
However, back in mid-December, the judge dismissed the application for Choksi’s witness to testify.
Earlier, Dr. Dorsett told OBSERVER media, “We had before the court an application to adduce expert evidence on Indian law as to exactly when did it become lawful for India to make extradition requests of Antigua. The judge, Justice Rita Olivetti, denied that application and we indicated to the court that we would want leave to appeal her decision.”
The appeal was subsequently filed within the 14-day timeframe given, and the appellate court granted permission to appeal in recent weeks.
The case for extradition, he said, cannot go forward until there is a determination as to what evidence can be accepted as it relates to Section 9(4) of the Extradition Act.
That section, which addresses the procedure and authority for extradition, states: “On receipt of any such request the Minister may issue an authority to proceed unless it appears to him that an order for the return of the person concerned could not lawfully be made, or would not, in fact, be made, in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
The lawyer said he had raised this particular section because, “as currently framed, [it] does not provide a person against whom an adverse decision is going to be made, an opportunity to make representation and that is in contravention of the right to the protection of the law.”
The lawyer had earlier indicated that if the appeal fails in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, he will advance the case to the Privy Council, which is Antigua and Barbuda’s final appellate court.
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